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J&K witnessed 333 cases of violence by govt officials: Report   

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Source: Google images
Source: Google images

By NewsGram Staff Writer

J&K : According to a national daily, there have been 333 cases of ‘torture, sexual violence, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances’ in Jammu and Kashmir over the last 25 years.

‘Structures of Violence: The Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir’, a report produced on the basis of RTIs and testimonies of witnesses, claim that 972 perpetrators or ‘agents of violence’ were responsible for these crimes.

Of these 972 offenders, 464 are army and police personnel from Jammu and Kashmir, 161 paramilitary persons and 189 government gunmen. The list of ‘agents of violence’ also include the names of a Major General, 7 Brigadiers, 31 Colonels, 4 Lt. Colonels, 115 Majors 40 captains and 54 senior officials of the paramilitary forces are named.

“The estimated strength of the forces in Jammu and Kashmir may be placed at 6,56,638. If the number of companies per army battalion are presumed at 10, the estimated strength of the total forces in J&K may be placed at 7,50,981″, the report reads.

The report which analyses “institutionalized impunity and violence” in Jammu and Kashmir will be released in Srinagar today.

An advance copy of the report was shared with The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy.

Jammu & Kashmir has been under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) since September 1990 which gives special power to the Indian Armed Forces in the state.

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Eastern European And Central Asian Countries Urged To Change Laws Regarding Sexual Violence

Dekanosidze said legal changes were a vital part of wider measures needed to tackle sexual violence.

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Sexual Violence
A woman protests underage marriages in Lagos, Nigeria, July 20, 2013. Underage marriage is a problem around the world. Activists are calling on former Soviet countries to overhaul laws against sexual violence and child marriage. VOA

Eastern European and Central Asian countries must overhaul Soviet-era laws on sexual violence that let rapists off the hook and encourage child marriage and bride-kidnapping, legal experts said Thursday.

Flawed legislation combined with sexist attitudes across the region mean girls and women are often blamed for provoking sexual violence and may be pressured to reconcile with their attackers or even marry them.

“Many of these laws deny justice to survivors of sexual violence rather than bringing their attackers to justice,” said Tamar Dekanosidze, a human rights lawyer in Georgia. “It’s important that countries fix these laws and end widespread impunity.”

 

Sexual Violence
Protest against sexual violence in India. Image source: www.bbc.co.uk

 

No requirement to investigate

In 10 of the 15 former Soviet Union countries there is no automatic requirement for the authorities to investigate and prosecute sexual violence, according to a study by Equality Now, meaning the burden of pursuing justice lies with the victim.

Police often deter victims from initiating cases, Dekanosidze said. Victims also frequently face pressure from the perpetrator, his family or even their own family to drop claims.

Nine of the countries — Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia — allow reconciliation for sexual violence crimes, according to the study published Thursday.

In some cases a perpetrator may persuade a victim to reconcile by paying her money or promising to marry her to avoid social stigma, said Dekanosidze, the report’s co-author.

 

Sexual Violence
A woman covers her mouth with a tape that reads “My sexuality is not your conjugal right” during a demonstration to support International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 25, 2016. VOA

 

Modernize rape laws

Equality Now, which will be writing to ministers across the region, also urged countries to amend laws that define rape as sex with violence or the threat of violence.

The report comes a week after Ukraine became the first country in the region to change its law to define rape as sex without consent, following in the footsteps of countries like Sweden and Iceland.

There is no reliable data on the prevalence of sexual violence in the region, but U.N. data suggests a third of women worldwide have suffered sexual or physical violence.

The report also said sexual violence usually went unpunished in bride kidnappings and child marriages, which still happen in some Eurasian countries.

Sexual Violence
FILE – Indian youth hold candles during a protest against sexual violence in New Delhi. VOA

Marriage after rape

Child marriages are illegal in all 15 countries, but may be encouraged if a girl is raped to prevent public shame.

Rape is not investigated in such situations, meaning the forced marriage effectively exonerates the rape, the study said.

Dekanosidze cited the case of a 15-year-old girl in Georgia who was raped by two men. When the teenager reported the attacks, her family forced her to marry one of her rapists.

Also Read: People Hope to Get Transparency in System With #MeToo Movement

In bride kidnappings, rape is often used as a tool to force the girl into marriage.

Dekanosidze said legal changes were a vital part of wider measures needed to tackle sexual violence.

“Laws can change public attitudes,” she said. “Amending these laws would send a strong message that sexual violence won’t be tolerated.” (VOA)